Hamden, Conn. – The Quinnipiac University women's rugby team announced its 2015 team awards in a ceremony held on Friday, May 1. Awards for Offensive and Defensive Player, MVP, Fighter First, Bobcat Rookie, Strength and Conditioning, Most Improved and Bobcat honors were handed out to the student-athletes.
Senior Shannon Durkin (Oakland, California) earned three awards on the night including the Most Valuable Player as well as the Offensive Player and Bobcat awards. Sophomore Lindey Wise (Franklin, Wisconsin) earned the Fighter First award while graduate student Aine McKeever (Derry City, Ireland) was tabbed the Bobcat Rookie of the Year. Sophomore captain Maggie Myles (Emmitsburg, Maryland) recieved the Defensive award while sophomore Abby Cook (Dunbarton, New Hampshire) was named Most Improved. Freshman Megan Johnson (Olympia, Washington) took home the Strength and Conditioning award while graduate student Ashaa Russell (Bronx, New York) and senior Jennifer Salomon (Garnerville, New York) were co-recipients of the Coaches Award.
Durkin earned awards in three separate categories based on her performance on the field, in the weight room, and as a team leader all season long for the Bobcats. She played in all 12 games and ended the year as the team leader in tries with 23. Against Navy, Durkin set the all-time record for most tries in a single game with seven scores. She recorded 37 tackles and led the team in runs over twenty with 21. The senior will leave Quinnipiac as the all-time leader in solo tackles with 116 and second in steals at the tackle with five. Durkin also earned the Iron Bobcat Award after posting a 180 pound bench press, 200 pound squat and a mile time under six minutes. The strength and conditioning staff at Quinnipiac also recognized her as the MVP of the year.
"The Bobcat Award recognizes a player who shines in all categories on and off the field and garnishes votes across the board for other accolades. Her determination in the weight room in the off season was unequivocally what set her miles apart from the competition this year in her rush and agility game," stated head coach Becky Carlson. "She is our first and currently only Team Iron Bobcat Award Recipient posting her impressive numbers in the 2013-2014 season and carrying that strength and power over into her final season in 2014-15."
The Fighter First award is given to players with a never quit attitude who inspire teammates to achieve greatness both on and off the field. Wise earned the award after battling injury last season and coming back to play in 10 games, posting two tries, an assist and 23 solo tackles. The sophomore also added nine assisted tackles and one run over twenty yards.
"Her fortitude in returning to the field and choosing to play with the pain to help her team in the best way possible is exactly why she is the ideal candidate for this award," Carlson said. "Quiet in demeanor yet makes loud statements on the field simply by playing the game with poise, grace and tenacity."
After playing on the Quinnipiac women's soccer team, McKeever joined the rugby squad as a graduate student and earned the Bobcat Rookie award. She played in all 12 games, recording 114 points which ranked her second on the team in scoring. McKeever tallied six solo tackles and was 57 of 80 in conversions on the season.
"There are many positive players that make up Bobcat Rugby who embrace the ideals and the deeper meaning behind being part of this program," said Carlson. "She is one of those players and as she leaves us in her first and also final season, her spirit and ability to speak highly of the program while ceasing to ever utter a negative word about any one of her teammates, coaches or program is just one of her many contributions both on and off the field."
Myles received the Defensive award after a strong season on the back line for the Bobcats. She played in 10 games, recording eight tries and three assists. Myles led the team in solo tackles with 64 while registering 12 assisted tackles and eight ROT. In the season opener against Life University, she posted 17 tackles, just one shy of the single game program record.
"In her previous seasons, a potentially permanent injury halted her run at many of the aforementioned record but true to her determined and direct style of play, she was unhindered in her competitive, gritty performances," said Carlson. "With a continued effort and commitment in both practice and in the weight room we anticipate that this player will return next season to shatter many of the existing records."
Cook was named the Most Improved Player for her dedication to perfecting her skill on the field. She was focused on becoming an all-around team player while committed to learning more about the game and applying it to the field. She played in seven games, recording three solo tackles and three assisted tackles.
"When you apply the highest level of commitment to understand this great game and work to perfect the smallest details, the progress and improvement never ceases to amaze," stated Carlson. "This is precisely the theme for this particular player's case and one of the many reasons she is so deserved of this award."
Johnson earned the Strength and Conditioning award for her hardnosed play and commitment to getting into the best possible shape for the tough on-field play. She played in 10 contests, recording two tries, five assists and 34 solo tackles. Johnson ranked first on the team in assisted tackles with 26 while adding four steals at the tackle.
"This award goes to the Bobcat who demonstrates particular aptitude, focus and commitment in all areas of the strength program including cardio workouts, Warrior Wednesday sessions and Olympic weight lifting development," said Carlson. "Her commitment to strength was indicative as the year progressed where she could be found absolutely everywhere on the field."
Russell and Salomon each received the Coaches award for their commitment to the program. Russell played in nine games, posting 17 tackles and nine assisted tackles. She joined the team as a rookie after being a member of the acrobatics and tumbling team, but quickly picked up the sports' fast and aggressive style of play.
"As the season progressed despite missing the first few games waiting on the NCAA clearinghouse, she picked up the game rapidly and it was immediately apparent that her strength and explosive first steps would be a force to be reckoned with," stated Carlson. "As the season drew on she continued to listen patiently and always chose to absorb instruction and push herself to new limits rather than waste any time second guessing her lack of experience in the game."
Salomon played in all 12 games, scoring one try and tying the team lead with eight assists. She also added 24 solo tackles and six assisted. Her 12 career assists place her tied for third all-time in program history.
"During the year when our back line had suffered a crucial set back due to injury, this player approached the coaching staff stating that she did not care where she played as long as it will help the team," said Carlson. "This kind of attitude is demonstrated not only in her stats category in assists but in her overall demeanor off the field in recognizing injustice and being a spokesperson for equality in sport."
The Bobcats finished the season 8-4 overall and reached the ACRA National Semifinals. Quinnipiac fell to Penn. State but took down Indiana for a third place national finish.
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